This is a misnomer. Florida has no fault insurance. This isn’t to say that in Florida it doesn’t matter who is at fault in an accident or that one party didn’t cause the accident or the other. What it refers to is personal injury protection insurance. This is a mandatory $10,000 insurance policy you have to purchase and carry. This simply means that regardless of who caused the accident, the person that owns that car has at least $10,000 of money available for their medical costs. So if they need medical treatment and/or miss enough time at work, then they can get compensated under that no fault PIP policy for lost wages. Documented missed work and lost wages can be claimed against this PIP policy. We help clients recover some of their lost wages in most cases.
What Is PIP In Reference To Auto Accidents In Florida?
PIP is the abbreviation for Personal Injury Protection coverage. It’s mandatory in the state of Florida. Some states in the country do not have PIP at all; they have another way to protect people. But anyone in your car, at the time of an accident, regardless of whose fault it was, has available money towards medical bills. There is a whole process: the hospitals can get so much of it, and then doctors, and the treating physicians and physical therapists get paid at a certain rate, and of course you have some money to go towards lost wages.
One of the really important rules is that you have to get treatment from a doctor within 14 days of an auto accident in order for that policy to stay in effect. If you wait until the 15th day to go to the doctor, regardless of if you’re really, really hurt or not, your auto insurance, at least in the state of Florida, says, “We’re not paying you that $10,000 towards your medical providers” even though you paid for the insurance. This is problematic, but most of the time we can still recover from the person who caused the accident.
The key here is to treat with a doctor within 14 days of your accident. This documents your insurance and opens the policy to pay necessary medical bills in, most cases up to $10,000.00.
Is The PIP Limit Different From The Time Limit To Bring An Auto Accident Lawsuit?
Yes, the PIP limit and the time you have to file an auto accident lawsuit have two different deadlines. One is for the PIP coverage, which is 14 days; the other is the statute of limitations, which is typically four years from the date of the accident. You want to do something well in advance of that date, but legally, you have four years to file a lawsuit. So if you wait one day past four years to file the lawsuit, the opposing insurance company can and will simply say, “It’s past the statute of limitations,” and the case will be tossed out of court. This will result in a complete loss of your case.
Additional Information About PIP Coverage In Florida
There are so many little ins and outs about PIP coverage because it involves a lot of money. Although it’s just $10,000 for the person hurt in the accident, there is a huge industry in Florida. PIP is huge in Florida, involving doctors, medical providers and attorneys, because there are so many accidents in the state of Florida and PIP insurance pays much better than regular health insurance to medical providers. An example would be a $5,000.00 bill from the emergency room at hospital, PIP would pay theoretically $4,000.00; whereas if that hospital submitted a $5,000.00 bill to a client’s health insurance, Health Insurance might only pay $500 to $2,000.00, forcing the hospital to eat most of that balance. This is a big difference.
This has becomes a huge business in the state of Florida. That is why there is now a 14-day rule so that when somebody is not hurt, they don’t get the insurance and can’t get talked into it a month later through some sort of scam.
What are Some of the Top Misconceptions About Auto Accident Claims?
Here is a misconception that I hear a lot; “Insurance will take care of all my Medical Bills.” It’s amazing that people just think the world is going to take care of these bills.
We start right from the beginning: we let them know that there will be a balance due, even with PIP insurance. PIP pays 80% up to $10,000. This means that 20% is still floating around out there and is the responsibility of the patient. If health insurance steps in after the 10,000 is paid by their auto insurance, then their health insurance company has a legal right to be repaid what they paid out on their client’s behalf. This is called subrogation.
Subrogation simply means that if you collect money in a personal injury case, you have to pay your health insurance company back the amount that they paid out. Most people don’t understand that. Over the years, we’ve had several people come in with their settlement statements from other law firms, and they are like, “This can’t be true; this can’t be right. I didn’t get any money,” and we go through and show them what their obligations are.
We work really hard to reduce the outstanding balances to all medical providers. We argue with health insurance companies that they shouldn’t get 100% of their money back. We ask them to reduce it; a lot of times we ask them to waive their subrogation. We ask doctors to reduce their fees, and we make sure we follow the statute. There is a particular statute that I would bet most personal injury firms do not follow that says, If the medical provider accepts this amount of money and cashes that check, then it doesn’t matter what the balance the doctor says is: there is now a legal formula to figure out what the client owes. Many times, this adds up to thousands of dollars that should be wiped out. We know other firms don’t follow as we have clients bring in their documents from these other law firms.
What Steps Should Someone Take After Being Injured In An Auto Accident?
At the scene, if they have an opportunity and are not hurt badly, it would be nice to get actual photos where the vehicles are at the time of the accident. Position in street, lights or stop signs, angle of cars, street signs, these are very helpful when we need to determine fault. That’s not always possible. A lot of times, the cars have to be moved, or the decision to move them is made long before you realize you are hurt. But ideally, pictures taken right then and there of how the cars were positioned are ideal.
Authorities should be called at the scene of the accident. This is important because they are going to set up and make sure that people do an exchange of driver’s information, including names, phone numbers, insurance companies and addresses, so that if there are problems with even just getting the cars fixed down the road, you know who the other party is.
If you are feeling woozy or like you cannot drive, you should go to the hospital. Don’t fool around. We are dealing with a lot of people who have head injuries; even though there are airbags, headrests and seat belts, people still get whiplash very easily and sometimes concussions from car accidents. They can hit their head on the post between the doors; so if you are woozy, not feeling well and/or nauseous, go to the hospital and get checked out. As soon as you can, reach out to myself or someone in my office and get instructions from there concerning which insurance companies to talk to, who not to talk to and what to do about your car. Don’t go this alone. We offer free consultation to help guide you.
For more information on Liability Laws In Florida, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (561) 588-9992 today.